Monday, April 29, 2013

Surf's Up! What to Pack for a Beach Vacation?

Pack for a Beach Vacation?

Recently, a Flattering50 reader emailed and asked: "I'm looking for some ideas on what to wear for a beach vacation. Any chance you might do a post on that?" Gladly! Other than college, I've lived in homes on the water or no more than a few blocks away. I adore the seashore! Diane Vreeland called water (for drinking or sitting by) "God's tranquilizer." I couldn't agree more. How do I pack for a beach vacation? The short answer: Simply and comfortably.

A beach vacation is the ultimate rest and relaxation experience. Formality is just plain silly when you're surrounded by sand, surf and salt air. That said, the absence of formality doesn't mean I'm going to throw in the proverbial beach towel on style and just wear anything. I still want to look my best. So...for a beach vacation, I'm going to pack a handful of separates that are easy to mixed and matched, and perfect for day or night. To see what's in my beach bag, click...

I'm going to assume my reader is all set with her swimwear and cover ups. (However, if you're looking for a bathing suit, you might want to check out Style Over 50: 2013 Swimsuit Trends.) Next on my list, would be bottoms. For the beach, my No. 1 bottom is something white--white pants or a white jean skirt.

Why White?...
  • A white skirt or slacks can be paired with every color. I'm loving white with this spring's trendy yellow and orange. I also love the whole black and white craze. 
  • White is a hot hue this spring, so you have a lot of choices, if you need to shop for something white
  • White in summer goes easily from day to night. Your top and accessories will dress white up or down.

My favorite white pants are ankle-length. However, the best pants are the ones that flatter you. You'll find white slacks just about everywhere. Here's a Jones New York Denim Skirt (White, Size 12).

Jones New York Denim Skirt (White, Size 12)

Long skirt. I love wearing a long skirt on vacation; it's such the antithesis of boardroom attire. This spring, long, jersey striped skirts (see photo at top of post) are very popular in New York. I'm also very fond of long, flirty skirts; they make me feel feminine and relaxed. A simple, cotton skirt, like this Michael Stars Hi Low Maxi Skirt with a white scoop T suits me perfectly.

Michael Stars Hi Low Maxi Skirt

At the beach, I'll wear a long skirt for day or night, dressing up or down with my top and accessories. (It's not great, of course, in the rain.) However, I strongly ask you to think twice about wearing a long skirt with a boxy, man-styled T-shirt. I've yet to see a woman over 50 who looks good in that combo. Instead, pair your long skirt with a feminine top, something with a scoop, perhaps, and a pretty necklace or scarf.

Color jeans. Depending on the length of your vacations, you'll need to pack more than a white bottom and a long skirt, of course. I love the color jeans this spring. Some of the colors are a little to bright for this over 50; but I do love my coral jeans. For more color jean ideas, take a peek at The Colorful Jeans Show

Flirty skirt. Is there still room in your suitcase? Personally, I wear more skirts than pants, so I'm going to pack a couple of skirts--in jersey cotton or a lightweight material.

Lounge pants. Okay. Maybe I'm giving my poor reader too much to think about. But when I take a beach vacation, I always pack a pair of cotton jersey lounge pants. They're so comfy and loose-fitting for lounging on the deck of the beach condo or porch of the seaside resort I'm staying in. My husband and I often take a walk on the beach after dinner. I'll change out of my dinner outfit and into my lounge pants for the evening stroll.

Old Navy Womens Lounge Pants

T-Shirts. Again, with comfort and easy-styling in mind, I’ll pack a bunch of T-shirts. My favorite ones have sleeves to the elbow—the half-sleeve Ts like the Women's Regular Fitted Half Sleeve Splitneck Top - Pale Emerald, M. T-shirts have a limited lifespan, so I don't like to spend a lot on the basic ones. I've been very happy with my Land's End basic Ts.

Or...for dinnertime, you might want to amp your T-shirt up a notch with the wide-scoop top or one with cut-out shoulders like this Michael Stars Lycra Jersey Cold Shoulder V-Neck Tee. This top comes in several colors, including black. Can you picture this top in black with white jeans? Fabulous! I think a wide scoop, showing off your collar bone, or a cut-out sleeve, giving just a hit of your arms, is so sexy.

Michael Stars Lycra Jersey Cold Shoulder V-Neck Tee

Laundered Linen shirt. A nice fitting soft, linen shirt in white or a palest pink or mint with a slim pair of white slacks is a comfortable, stylish look. The key is fit. Please think twice about wearing anything too big or boxy. 

Stripes. I’m a big fan of stripes, which happen to be trending big time in NYC this spring. I own several striped Ts, but may pick up another one with broad stripes. When I were stripes, I think of Coco Chanel, who made the French sailor shirt chic.

Here's a style secret...One thing I’ve discovered is a vertically striped top is actually flattering. The dark stripes around your waist actually make you look slimmer.

Tunics. Tunics are in vogue these days and look great with cropped pants. I also like lightweight cotton dresses over skinny white jeans. A tunic, like this Soft Joie Luliana Top, might even double as a beach cover up.

Soft Joie Luliana Top

A Faux Wrap. I always pack at least one summery faux wrap dress with a flirty skirt. A breezy dress makes getting ready for dinner, well, a breeze.

In general, my vacation-packing strategy is to pack layers. After childhood vacations on Cape Cod and summer waitressing jobs on Martha's Vineyard in college, I've learned the weather on the seashore is mighty changeable. A wind can kick up off the water and make for a pretty chilly July 4th, for instance. So...I'd pack...

A Sweater. (Or two!) I love the loose-knit cotton sweaters like this Hand Crochet Sweater from the Pure Collection.

Hand Crochet Sweater

Or here's a Splendid French Riviera Stripe Cardigan. I LOVE this outfit--so simple, yet so sophisticated-looking. I'd skip the tattered jeans, of course. But the white pants and grey top under the navy striped cardigan are perfect.

Splendid French Riviera Stripe Cardigan

A Stylish Anorak. For Memorial Day weekend at the beach house, I’ll probably bring a jean jacket--blue or white. However, if I'm taking a beach vacation and eating out every dinner, I usually pack a stylish anorak that I know will look good for day or night.


What I pack in the way of accessories depends on how I'm getting to my beach destination. Since I live near and love the New England coast, the vast majority of my beach vacations are within driving distance. That means, I can load up the car with my favorite accessories, such a straw hat, straw beach bag and way too many pairs of sandals. However, packing for plane trip to another coast is a different story. If I'm flying to my beach getaway, I'll stick with the must-haves. My must-have accessories:

Beach shoes. What you pack in the way of beach shoes will depend on the sort of activities you have planned. If you plan to spend time on the beach, you'll need something to protect you from the hot sand. If I'm packing for a plane ride, my beach shoes are rubber flip-flops. Reason: They take up so little room. I love my beaded flip-flops (in photo).

If flip-flops aren't comfortable, especially for long walks on the beach, I'd pack a pair of sneakers instead. I know they aren't chic, but you don't want to avoid fun activities because your feet hurt, right? I have a pair of Steve Madden flats with sneaker bottoms that have served me well. They're still not chic, but they're a step-up from sneakers.

One last thought: Will you be swimming in the ocean? If so, you might opt for water shoes instead of flip-flops. Water shoes will protect your feet against the hot sand as well as the shells and pebbles turned up by the surf at the water's edge.

Sandals. As previously noted, if I'm driving to my beach destination, I pack lots of sandals--flats, wedges, and a variety of different colors. However, if you're packing for a plane ride, you might not have a lot of room. Not to worry. Most strappy, feminine sandals--flats, heels or wedges--work for both day and night. The gladiator styles are trending this spring. I just bought sandals with neutral olive green straps and a woven wedge. I'm happy to report: They go with everything!

Jewelry and Scarves. I don't think you need my help with packing jewelry and scarves. I will say simply that I don't pack a lot of jewelry for a beach vacation. First, I don't want to risk losing it. And secondly, I really don't think you need to get too dolled up for a beach vacation. I lean more towards pretty scarves.

And don't forget the Sun Block! 

I hope I've given my reader some food for thought. If you have some ideas for Flattering50 readers planning a beach vacation, please leave a comment. Thanks!